Today I depart Sydney at 5pm bound for Africa on a month long mission and volunteer trip. My boyfriend Navin and I have both desired to spend our July university holidays volunteering overseas for some time now, yet were unsure of which country to go to. India was being tossed around for a while yet at the end of 2009 the idea of Ghana popped into Navin’s head as we have a lovely Ghanaian family at our church. Whilst I’d always wanted to go to Africa, yet knew nothing really about Ghana, Navin and I approached Josephine asking what she thought of us volunteering in her country. She was one happy lady!
Straight away Josephine and her husband Ben began planning a month long adventure in their country – organising teaching opportunities, evangelism opportunities in villages and time to hang out with locals and get a feel for Ghanaian life. So, with their blessing and excitement, we booked flights in January and began a six month countdown till take off!
It’s felt like such a long time since we booked flights, but today has also crept up on us very fast! Before leaving, I thought I’d share some of the activities we’ll be doing in Ghana, with a quick mention of Kenya too, as we’ll spend a day there en route home to Australia. I’ll include some prayer points as well, which we’d be really grateful if you could keep in mind!
Teaching at Middle School
A large part of our time will be spent teaching at a middle school in Cape Coast. I’ll be teaching English and Home Economics (which my parents are hysterical about as I can’t really cook!) and Navin will be teaching Mathematics and Business. We will be spending four days here at the beginning of our trip, and a further four days here at the end. I’ve prepared an easy Anzac Biscuit recipe that I’m hoping the kids will enjoy! (Let’s hope the kids like me as much as they did in Vanuatu – see picture!)
Our nights in Cape Coast will be spent with the mission organisation Campus Crusade, a 59 year old organisation that works in 191 countries seeking to share God’s love and gospel message and win people to faith. At the moment our understanding is that we’ll be involved in their Jesus Film ministry. I am greatly looking forward to this evangelism opportunity and seeing how God can work beyond the barriers of language and culture.
Mission to the Volta Region
During our second week in Ghana we will be joining a mission trip with Josephine’s old church in Accra to the Volta Region – an area of west Ghana that hosts the world’s largest artificial lake, a monkey sanctuary and some beautiful waterfalls. In this area, a form of slavery known as Trokosi is still practiced, which involves young girls being put into slavery as a result of a crime of a family member. Again, I look forward to the opportunity of witnessing to these people!
Visting a Fair Trade Cocoa Farm
Whilst this activity has not been booked in yet, we hope once we’re on the ground we’ll be able to call around and have the opportunity of visiting a cocoa farm. I hope to visit Kuapa Kokoo, an organisation that featured on the Four Corners documentary a few months ago about chocolate and the child labour issue. We hope they’ll take us to one of their Fair Trade Farms, as we’ve heard of other people having this opportunity through them. Cadbury Australia’s Dairy Milk Fair Trade certification has been benefiting thousands of Ghanaian cocoa farmers, and we hope to see this in action!
Watching Ghana in the FIFA World Cup
Last Sunday Ghana won an exciting match against the U.S.A in the FIFA World Cup to proceed to the Quarter-Finals. This is the first time the Ghanaian team has progress this far in a World Cup, and they are the only African nation left in the Cup so they are sure to have the support of every African! After watching the 4.30am game and cheering as Ghana won, Navin and I look forward to arriving in Africa and watching games at a reasonable hour! Ghana’s quarter-final match will be played six hours after we land, so we’ll be whisked to Independence Square in Africa where we’ll watch the game with thousands of other Ghanaians! Go the BLACK STARS!
Visiting Ghanaian Attractions
Aside from our volunteer and mission work, we’ll also have the opportunity to visit some sites! From historical museums in the country’s capital, Accra, a children’s orphanage in Osu, craft markets in Kumasi, a canopy walk in Kakum National Park and the many castles that line the beaches of Cape Coast, we look forward to fully embracing their culture, learning and taking in any experiences or sites we can! For me, I am most looking forward to visiting Elmina Castle on the coast – a previous fort for the slave trade from West Africa to Brazil by the Portuguese. Whilst this will be a haunting experience, I think it will serve as a reminder for the 27 million people still in slavery today and the work that needs to be done to eradicate it!
Familia Moja Children’s Centre in Kenya
En route home to Australia at the end of July, Navin and I have a 17 hour layover in Kenya! But we’ve been blessed with the opportunity to visit Famila Moja, an orphanage for children near Nairobi. In correspondence with the Director of the orphanage she has repeatedly pleaded with us to stay longer! Unfortunately we’ll only get 17 hours with these beautiful children, but we have an abundance of gifts from Australia to give them! We’ve been given pillowcases, blankets, pyjamas and Australian soft toys from the Australian founders of the orphanage to give to the children, and Navin and I have also collected many pens and pencils from our church to give to the kids. Last night I filled a HUGE box full of these generous donations from our church, I can’t wait to give them to the kids and see the delight in their eyes!
If you’d like to prayer for us whilst we’re over there, here are some quick prayer points as a guide:
- Safe travels – we depart at 5pm this afternoon, and will arrive in Ghana 10pm Australian time on Friday evening
- That God will be preparing the hearts and minds of the many we hope to witness to whilst there.
- Smooth connections in both travel and meeting people
- That we’ll both have our hearts open to God’s plan for us, and let Him lead us during this trip
- For God’s protection, especially against sickness and disease (we’ve already begun taking our malaria tablets!)
- For the School and Children where we’ll be teaching – that we’ll grow a strong and trustworthy relationship with them
- Our families back home – Praise God they have allowed us on this adventure, and pray for their peace of mind whilst we’re away
I hope to update this blog whenever possible – our base will be in Accra, so between excursions I will be doing my best to keep everyone up to date with our adventures and experiences!
A HUGE thank you to our wonderful personal travel agents, Ben and Josephine, our lovely families for allowing us to have this fantastic opportunity, our church, HHBC for supporting us in donations and prayers and to our friends who have shared in our excitement over the past six months – we can’t wait to bring you all back our stories in a month!
So long Australia!